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Passover Grab Bag:

Passover starts tomorrow night at Sundown. I'm running my own Seder for the first time, so the interminable rabbinical commentary about how the ten plagues were really two hundred and fifty blah blah blah will be replaced, hopefully, with more interesting discussion, aided by a book I bought from Amazon, "Creating Lively Passover Seders." Anyway, I've been collecting offbeat Passover links people have been sending me via email, and here they are:

The sixty second Haggadah (click on the book to start; ability to recognize Hebrew helpful).

The thirty minute seder: A nice, concise version for those who want the basic elements, in English.

"Who Let the Jews Out? [Who? Who? Who?]"

The JibJab Matzah video.

And, of course, "Matzo Man" (who can resist a matzah dressed like an Indian chief?)

UPDATE: And here, courtesy of reader Hannah, is "Elijah the Prophet", starring Elijah Wood, from Birthright Israel.

Friedrich Foresight (mail):
How do the rabbis get 250 plagues out of ten?
4.12.2006 12:10am
Lev:
Check out Weird al-Yankovic: Pretty Fly (for a Rabbi)
4.12.2006 12:37am
Jim Hu:
Earlier today Fresh Air played this. Excerpt:

Then the Pharaoh, who looked like Yul Bruyner
Heard the Jews were trying to escape
Charlton Heston came right down from the mountain
He said, "Pharaoh, you're a damn dirty ape"
The menorah was almost out of oil
Farrakhan was planning Kristalnacht
The gefitle fish was nearing extinction
It looked like Moses and his flock were fehrkakt

They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat
They tried to kill us, we were faster on our feet
And we knew how to resist
'Cause we'd rented Schindler's List
Tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat

It's on iTunes.
4.12.2006 12:54am
Read closer:
It isn't about turning 10 into 250, it's about analogizing to the 10 plagues in Egypt to figure out how many plagues happened at the Sea of Reeds. One explanation is that the Israelites are promised that they won't be stricken with the plagues that the Egyptians suffered with, so this mathematical exercise exempts the Israelites from up to 260 afflictions.
4.12.2006 1:55am
Shtetl G:
David,

Have you ever heard of the story of Maurice Scheckman. He was a Canadian pilot in the Royal Air Force in WWII. Sometime in the 80's, the Queen invited him over to England to Knight him. The day before the ceremony he was briefed on the specifics of the ceremony. The Queen would say a phrase in latin, make some motions and then Mr.Scheckamn was supposed to reply in Latin. Maurice had a very hard time remembering the phrase he was supposed to reply with, so he wrote it down on little piece of paper.
On the day of the knighting ceromony everything went as planned. The queen did her thing and when it came to Maurice's turn to say his line he grabbed his paper. Just as he was about to read his line, a gust of wind blew the paper out of his hand. In a moment of panic, he blurted out, "Ma Nishtana ha lila hazeh?" The Queen replied, "Why is this knight different from all other Knights?"

Have a happy and healthy Passover!
4.12.2006 10:59am
BobH (mail):
Favorite Passover joke:

So Moses is out wandering in the desert, and he comes across this bush that burns yet does not consume itself. Moses recognizes a Sign when he sees one. "Lord?" he asks, "Is that you?"

"IT IS I, MOSES," booms a voice from the burning bush.

"Lord, am I glad to see you!" Moses says. "Listen, you have to help your children in bondage in Egypt. We've been enslaved for 400 years, they make us labour with rigour on those pyramids ... it's terrible. Can you help?"

"MOSES," booms out the Lord, "I HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS, AND I HAVE SOME BAD NEWS."

"Well, maybe you'd better give me the good news first, Lord -- it's been a while since we had any."

"ALL RIGHT, MOSES. HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS. YOU'RE GOING TO GO BEFORE PHARAOH AND ASK HIM TO LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. BUT HIS HEART WILL BE HARD, AND HE WILL REFUSE. SO I WILL BRING SOME PLAGES -- BAD PLAGUES, MOSES! -- ON THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT. I'M GOING TO GIVE THEM DARKNESS, AND BLOOD. I'M GOING TO GIVE THEM LOCUSTS, AND BOILS, AND MURRAIN."

"Murrain, Lord?"

"IT'S A DISEASE OF CATTLE, MOSES. DON'T INTERRUPT. WELL, NONE OF THIS IS GOING TO WORK: PHARAOH'S HEART WILL STILL BE HARDENED AGAINST THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. SO I'M GOING TO SEND THE ANGEL OF DEATH OVER, AND THE ANGEL WILL SLAY THE FIRST-BORN IN ALL HOUSEHOLDS IN EGYPT."

"What about US, Lord?!?"

"DON'T WORRY, MOSES; HAVE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SLAP SOME LAMB BLOOD ON THEIR DOORPOSTS, AND THE ANGEL OF DEATH WILL PASS RIGHT OVER THEIR HOUSES."

"Thank you, Lord."

"GLAD TO OBLIGE, MOSES. WELL, THIS DEATH OF THE FIRSTBORN THING WILL CHANGE PHARAOH'S ATTITUDE, AND HE WILL AGREE TO LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. AND THEN, I, MOSES -- I, NOT AN ANGEL! -- WILL LEAD THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL OUT OF EGYPT INTO THE DESERT. DURING THE DAY I WILL APPEAR AS A PILLAR OF SMOKE; AT NIGHT I WILL APPEAR AS A PILLAR OF FIRE. AND I WILL LEAD YOU TO THE BANKS OF THE RED SEA. NOW, IN THE MEANTIME PHARAOH'S HEART WILL HAVE HARDENED AGAIN, AND HE WILL SEND HIS ARMY AFTER THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, WITH ALL THOSE CHARIOTS AND WAR MACHINES AND STUFF."

"This doesn't sound good, Lord."

"MOSES, WOULD I TAKE YOU THIS FAR WITHOUT A PLAN? WHEN YOU SEE THE EGYPTIAN ARMY BEHIND YOU, TAP YOUR STAFF ON THE ROCKS AT THE RED SEA SHORE AND I WILL CAUSE THE WATERS TO PART! THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WILL WALK THROUGH DRY-SHOD, BUT WHEN THE EGYPTIANS GET DOWN IN THERE I WILL CAUSE THE WATER TO CLOSE OVER THEM, AND THEY WILL BE SLAIN! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT, MOSES?!?"

"Lord, with good news like that I can't imagine what the bad news could be. But you'd better tell me."

"MOSES," said the Lord, "THE BAD NEWS IS THAT YOU -- YOU, MOSES! MUST DRAFT THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT."
4.12.2006 11:50am
JosephSlater (mail):
I kind of dig the "how many plauges?" bit (and so does my Unitarian wife). It shows a certain type of debating style, relying on close textual analysis that you see in ... lawyers.
4.12.2006 11:54am
BobH (mail):
The multiplication-of-the-plagues discussion has always been my favorite part of the seder. I picture these rabbis, stoned to the bone after their 4 (or 5, or 6) cups of wine, reclining around and trying to top each other' theories. "No, wait! Lishen! At the Red Sea there mushta been [hic] TWO HUNNERD AN' FIFTY plagues! Am I right?"
4.12.2006 12:01pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Happy Passover, David!

(Is it OK to say "happy"? I'm never sure about Jewish holidays, other than it's OK for Hannakuh. But since Passover is about freedom and survival, I guess it is. ;-p)
4.12.2006 3:55pm